Alexander & Alexander Transportation Insurance - Trucking Blog
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Romaine lettuce is shipping again after a late November outbreak of E. coli, but only after the federal government began a new round of negotiating with producers for changes in tracking.
For now, romaine lettuce that has been deemed safe to eat will come with labeling, and include where the lettuce comes from. Federal officials are warning consumers not to eat unlabeled romaine lettuce.
But the larger task at hand is how to track romaine lettuce in the future, in case of another E. coli outbreak. Tracking tainted romaine lettuce in the past has been tricky, and any change in regulation or installed technology seems likely to affect the supply chain as well as the producers. In some cases, truckloads of romaine lettuce were in transit as the recall came down.
“The disruption is pretty big,” said Bob Rose, the San Francisco region manager for Allen Lund Co., speaking to Transport Topics. “We were told by many vendors to destroy the product.”
When the Centers for Disease Control said that romaine lettuce was tainted with E. coli, Rose knew what he and his drivers had to do. Two days before Thanksgiving, Rose told drivers to dump their truckloads of romaine lettuce.
The order was the easy part. Finding places to dump the 15 truckloads was another issue. Rose said some of the drivers had difficultly finding a place that would accept the loads.
Eventually, tons of lettuce were sent to landfills and dumps. Rose, who handles much of the Central California lettuce business for the company, told the truckers to keep their landfill receipts.
Some food service companies, such as Aramark Corp., said they will not serve romaine lettuce in their cafeterias until well into 2019, according to the University of Cincinnati’s student paper, The News Record.
“It’s a small price to pay to make sure our food supply is safe,” Rose said.
Other major food haulers said they were careful to take steps to assure the safety of food products.
During an outbreak of illness caused by tainted romaine lettuce that ended in late June, 210 food-poisoning cases were reported, resulting in 96 hospitalizations and five deaths. The outbreak was traced to the Yuma region.
When planning a trip, we often search for an unusual business, place or activity that might result in a good story.
During the past couple of years, we have visited a family business in Tennessee making trolls, ridden a mail boat on a Wisconsin lake and attended President Jimmy Carter’s Sunday school class.
It was fun, educational and worthy of telling others about.
In organizing a September road trip through Central and Eastern Iowa, our friend, Lynda Damrill, suggested we explore an Iowa truck stop on Interstate 80.
The world has multitudes of truck stops, so we wondered what was so special about this truck stop that a visit might make for a good story.
With a little Internet investigatory work, we discovered Iowa 80 Truckstop claims to be the world’s largest.
It boasts a resident dentist, barber and chiropractor. Being interested in just about anything that might be the “world’s largest,” we penciled it in.
Approaching westbound on I-80 from Davenport, Iowa, we pulled off at Exit 284 and entered the truck stop parking area.
The place was immense, with cars, vans and pickup trucks parked on one side of the main building and rows of semis on the other. Several additional buildings were scattered about the property.
The entrance nearest our parking spot led to a large food court sporting a Wendy’s, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, Dairy Queen, Orange Julius, Caribou Coffee, Einstein Bagels and Blimpie.
We had emailed Iowa 80 marketing manager Heather DeBaillie requesting a meeting to discuss the facility. She agreed and was patiently waiting at a table near Caribou.
Our first question was how Iowa 80 Truckstop can claim the title of “world’s largest.”
She replied it services 5,000 customers per day in a 130,000-square-foot building on 200 acres (85 developed) of property. This sounded pretty impressive and marked the end of this line of questioning.
Iowa 80 has become what it is today due to the foresight of Bill Moon, who in 1964 managed a modest Amoco (now part of BP) station at the same location.
During several years, he purchased land surrounding the station, and in 1984 acquired the station when Amoco decided to exit the truck stop business.
Bill continued to expand the business, while acquiring and building three additional truck stops in Missouri and Oklahoma. The firm has been managed by Bill’s son and daughter since his death in 1992 at age 59.
Our tour began by walking from the food court to a 300-seat full-service restaurant that boasts a 50-foot buffet line ($10.39).
Then it was upstairs to meet full-time truck stop dentist Tom Roemer who said most of his work involves emergencies although he does about any type of procedure other than implants and root canals. The office was quite small with two chairs and a receptionist.
Kay thought Tom could be a candidate for a cover of Gentleman’s Quarterly.
Exiting the dental office, we strolled around the corner to the barber shop where a trucker was getting his hair cut by a female barber.
Then on to visit chiropractor Justin Seifert who commented that long-haul truckers frequently suffer lower back and neck problems. Justin also conducts Department of Transportation physicals and drug tests.
Heather showed us the movie theater (truckers can request a specific movie), library, chapel, TV room, laundry room and showers before heading downstairs to a mammoth showroom that included an embroidery shop, a wall full of working truck lights, a selection of chrome exhausts and accessories and a full-service Verizon store.
Heather described this area as a “trucker’s candy shop” frequented mostly by independent truckers.
The area also included a beautiful semi, its trailer painted with famous scenes of I-80 across the U.S. Heather said Bill Moon had tried to purchase the semi used by Jerry Reid in “Smokey and the Bandit,” but the price was too high.
Exiting the building, we climbed in Heather’s car and headed for the Truckomat where drivers pay $75 for a full truck scrub by five employees, including two standing on high scaffolds along both sides of the trailer. Cabs only are $35. The truck stop also has a Dogomat for washing dogs (many truckers take dogs along) that costs $5.
Our last stop was Iowa 80’s real prize, a large museum filled with magnificent restored trucks, some quite rare. We spent an hour in the museum that was worthy of at least a half day.
The collection included a 1929 REO Speedwagon EX, a 1911 Walker Electric, a 1910 Avery tractor and more.
What a treasure this place is. Entrance is free with only a request for donations.
By late afternoon, it was time to bid goodbye to Heather and Iowa 80 Truckstop.
Our four-hour tour proved to be quite an eye opener.
If You Go…Getting there: Iowa 80 Truck Stop is about 15 minutes west of Davenport, Iowa, at Exit 284.
Dining: Fast food, a buffet and ordering from a menu are all available.
Hours: The main restaurant and Wendy’s are open 24/7. Other fast-food restaurants have more normal hours. The museum is open 9 a.m. (noon Sundays) to 5 p.m. Memorial Day through Labor Day. It is closed Monday and Tuesday the remainder of the year.
It’s happened to all of us. There we are just cruising along enjoying the ride when suddenly the engine cuts out, forcing us to stop and troubleshoot the vehicle. Hopefully, all it takes is flipping the fuel switch to reserve to get back on the road again, but sometimes it’s more than that. If we’re lucky it happens on a deserted back road far from traffic. In this woman’s case, it happened in the middle lane of an Interstate highway.
This video comes from the trucker stuck behind the hapless rider stopped on the highway. We can see her fiddling with the controls, trying to get the bike started, but she is unsuccessful. At this point, many drivers would be laying on the horn or yelling at her to get out of the way. But this trucker takes pity on her. His 18-wheeler provides cover so that she doesn’t get mowed down from behind by speeding drivers.
It becomes apparent that she won’t be able to get the bike started anytime soon. Traffic in the other lanes keeps flowing by, preventing her from safely pulling over to the side of the road. This is when the trucker decides to use his bulk for good. He begins to pull right, across lanes, blocking traffic. The driver tells the rider to walk her bike over to the side. She does as instructed under the safe cover of the benevolent trucker blocking traffic for her. Passing cars, who can’t see the bike through the truck, honk at them, but the trucker ignores them, knowing that he is doing the rider some good.
Eventually, she gets all the way to the wall on the right side of the highway. “I guess that’s all I can do,” he says. He and the rider exchange waves and the trucker drives off, leaving the stricken rider to her unfortunate, but safer, fate.
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When I married my husband Will in 2002, I thought we’d be an active duty military family for at least 20 years, but that didn’t happen. Life had other plans for us. After four years of being a navy wife, we moved our family back to my home state and settled back in as best as we could to civilian life.
In 2013, Will first mentioned going into trucking. I knew next to nothing about the trucking industry.
Even though he’s not home as much as our family would like, at least trucking would mean we wouldn’t need to worry about deployment. We deal with his extended absences the best we can. The only things I’ve known about his job over the years primarily came from our conversations, and to be honest, I’ve developed a few preconceived notions. I finally got the opportunity to take an overnight trip with him in his truck in June, and I will admit that my ideas of what his life was like were wrong.
Lesson 1: It’s not a leisure trip
I used to think that his job was more of a fun road trip, but I quickly learned that this was completely wrong.
As a family, we had our fair share of fun and not-so-fun road trips, but this was neither.
The moment I got into the truck, Will hooked up the trailer and I saw the shift in him.
This was business.
Lesson 2: Hurry, only to wait
The second thing that I realized was how draining and exhausting an extended wait at a shipper or receiver can be.
When we were on the road, we ended up waiting at a shipper for four hours. There was no restroom, no napping, and no food. I instantly thought back to all the times I had been less than understanding. I could see the frustration on his face as he kept looking at his drive clock, confirming that he would not be able to make that particular delivery on time.
I never understood why his whole mood would shift because of wait times, but I found out, first-hand. I admit I’ve been guilty of saying, “At least you can take a nap or read or watch something while you wait.”
Lesson 3: Showering is a challenge
There were many nights when Will called to say a quick goodnight, mentioning that he was too tired to even shower.
I’d jokingly call him lazy because in my mind I wondered, how hard can it be to just go and shower?
When we were on the road, I learned a hard lesson about the challenges of being able to shower comfortably while on the road. The water might not be warm enough, it can sometimes get crowded, or there might not be any shower facilities at all.
It wasn’t as simple or relaxing as jumping in the shower at home.
Lesson 4: Being on the road can be lonely
I often pictured Will on the road, driving in quiet solitude, escaping “real life.” This is probably the number one thing I envied about his job, since I’m at home with our four kids 90 percent of the time.
On the day we were heading home, I noticed several drivers sitting in their trucks alone, eating their lunch alone, and driving alone.
I started to imagine how lonely it could get after more than just a few days, or how hard it would be to be away from loved ones. There are days when drivers probably feel the heartache of their extended absences — sad that their kids are growing up too fast or that life is happening without them.
I’m sure there are probably days when they just want someone to talk to and not be alone.
I had only been away for 24 hours, and I was already homesick and missed our girls.
A clearer understanding
This trip was long overdue, and while it was far from being my favorite thing we’d ever done together, in the end, I got a first-hand glimpse into what it’s like to be on the road. I experienced the frustrations, the waiting, the boredom, the loneliness, but also the freedom of the open road, the beauty of the changing landscape, and the satisfaction of a job well done.
Until this trip, I thought my job as a stay-at-home mom was harder than his. I used to think his job was so easy.
I still don’t understand why he chose this profession, but through this trip I saw his passion, resilience, and hard work shine through. I’m glad I gained a better understanding of his role as a driver. Because of it, I’ve become a lot more appreciative and compassionate.
It’s almost Halloween! We thought it would be neat to share some stories of creepy things that truckers have seen on the road to get you in the Halloween spirit!
CRYING OR LAUGHING?
A driver for Costco was driving late in Kentucky when the road started to fog up worse than he’d ever seen. He stopped to wait it out, and after five minutes his truck cut out—no lights, no engine, nothing. He tried the radio but couldn’t reach anyone, and the engine wouldn’t turn over. He then heard a child crying nearby, which “slowly morphed into a woman crying.” He rolled down his window to ask if anyone needed help. The crying stopped. Then he heard a sinister laugh. He rolled up the window, and the laugh got louder. Then it stopped. When the fog cleared, his truck started back up, and he stopped at the next truck stop, to discuss the eerie situation with fellow truckers.
THE CREEPY DOG-PERSON
Here’s a story right out of a Stephen King novel. A trucker was driving on the highway. It was getting really late and very dark so he pulled over into the rest area in “the middle of nowhere.” The rest area was empty, so there were no other vehicles or people around.
As he was getting some shuteye in the truck, he heard the faint sound of a barking dog nearby, that seemed to be getting louder and louder.
Eventually, the barking sounded like it was right outside his driver side door, so he got up to look in the window… and saw that it wasn’t a dog, but a crazy-eyed person, staring directly at him! He was trying to get into the truck. Needless to say, the trucker started the engine and got out of Dodge.
FLARE TO THE RESCUE
A trucker relayed a story of when he was driving from the US into Canada. He usually carried a firearm, but couldn’t take one into Canada. One night in Canada, the trucker wakes up and sees a guy in his truck. The intruder shows the trucker he has a machete, then he goes back looking through the guy’s stuff. Even though the trucker didn’t have a firearm, he had a flare gun, which he pulled on the intruder. The machete-wielder slowly got out of the truck, then took off running. The trucker let loose the flare as a warning, which accidentally struck the man fleeing. It didn’t do much harm, so the trucker took off down the road.
THE VANISHING WAR VETERAN
For the first couple of years driving, this man was a night driver. It got hard to see sometimes. One night, in Pennsylvania, the trucker was following a flatbedder through the mountains. At one point he fell back because he could feel the van leaning. Shortly after, he saw a man standing on the shoulder, just outside the treeline, wearing what appeared to be a soldier’s uniform—but, like, Revolutionary War era. He also had a musket. He then started walking back into the trees and stared at the trucker. Before he made it to the trees, he vanished into thin air. The trucker said he had the windows down and the air got really cold, and a mile after that, the air got warm again…
DON’T TRUST STRANGE LITTLE GIRLS ON THE HIGHWAY
Another one out of a horror novel, this is one from Missouri. The trucker was stopped at an off-ramp, taking a breather. As he’s resting, he sees a little girl approaching him, who says, “Hi, mister!” The trucker thinks, “What is this little kid doing out here at this time?” He says hi.
She says, “My mommy says you’ll be okay, don’t worry!” The trucker left, completely confused.
Down the road, he realized he’d forgotten to fuel up. He scrambled back to the nearest truck stop, and as he was rolling up, the truck sputtered—he made it right to the fuel line before running out of gas. That’s when the little girl’s words hit him.